June 13, 2008

Debra Winger Surfaces with New Book

I got excited when I heard that Debra Winger has written a book. I thought, finally, a tell-all where we can all learn where the fuck she's been all these years and why she wasn't making movies. Her last big movie was Shadowlands in 1993, and she was the female star of the 80s with Urban Cowboy, Terms of Endearment, An Officer and a Gentleman and Black Widow. But then she disappeared. Winger became the touchstone for the lack of opportunities for women as they age in Hollywood. People have thought that if the great Debra Winger can't make it, what chance do I have as they all exhibited in the Rosanna Arquette documentary Searching for Debra Winger.

The news about the book is that it is not a tell all at all. It is a book of meditations, and at first I didn't really like it because I wanted so much more. I wanted to know why she fought with Shirley MacLaine and about all the other crap I read over the years. But after I went to see Winger speak the other evening at a NY Times event, I understand why this is the only type of book she could write.

The thing about Debra Winger that I never really got until this week is that this is a woman who does not give a shit about Hollywood in the least. She loves to act (and even said that if you have to ask the question should you become an actor then you shouldn't because it is the type of life that chooses you) but hates the business. She made most of her movies before the town become obsessed with box office and youth and she just got out because she had other things she wanted to do with her life.

You gotta respect that. I think all the rumors about her being difficult (I pride myself on being difficult) are probably real and blown out of proportion because she turned her back on Hollywood and Hollywood hates that. Hollywood can kick you out, but you can't leave Hollywood.

I found her in person to be so real, introspective and inquisitive.

Here are some of most interesting tidbits she shared:

  • An Officer and a Gentleman was basically shelved and they released it only because there was a strike.
  • She never watches her old movies, it makes her self conscious.
  • She has no relationship to the film business - "I don't need to"
  • "I really love acting, but the business, you just have to keep stepping away from it."
  • She'd love to produce.
  • The Rosanna Arquette film was called State of the Art which is why Winger agreed to do it. Arquette later called and told her she had changed the name.
  • She said that women need to go out and see movies the first week just to have our "vote." "Next time you see something interesting go and see it."
One of the things I've noticed in the coverage of her book (and return to public life for a brief moment) is that there are tons of questions about whether she has had plastic surgery. Just from my brief encounter with her I can pretty much tell that plastic surgery or botox is not something she is interested in. She says it best in this section Aging Gracefully from her book Undiscovered
Each time I travel to another country and encounter another culture, when I return I am struck by how much American culture is led by the media and not the lives and inherent beauty of its general population. Popular culture has no room for real wrinkles. The movie industry in the United States promotes a lineless, motionless look for women of all ages that is so completely nonthreatening as to be, ironically, scary. We are the specialists in no lines, no map, no history, including the history of many other lands.
Here she is on the View from earlier this week.